Elderly opera singers in retirement home face old tensions for Verdi concert

Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, Quartet, focuses on elderly opera singers living in a home for the retired. Adapted from a play by Ronald Harwood, it stars Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon.

Wilf, Cissy and Reggie had once been a successful singing quartet but Jean’s arrival at Beecham House throws their plans into turmoil. Featuring a cast of first-rate British actors, this is a genteel comedy with some snappy dialogue and heart.

Dustin Hoffman directs

At 75, Dustin Hoffman has added directing to his resume with the confident debut Quartet. Set in a retirement home for retired opera singers, the film focuses on a group of former rivals who must put aside old tensions to mount a concert celebrating Verdi’s birthday. The film stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly.

The British cast, reminiscent of the stellar ensembles that made films like Amour and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel so memorable, adds a touch of class to this comedy. But it is Hoffman’s disciplined direction that allows the actors to shine. The result is a film of warmth, wit and genuine emotion that will appeal to older audiences. The Weinstein Company release is generating early awards season buzz.

Maggie Smith stars

Dame Maggie Smith continues to build on her recent successes with Downton Abbey and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with a fine performance as an elderly diva who learns to love again. Her sarcastic prickling is on full display, but she also invests a half-century of acting smarts into her smaller moments, like a wistful goodbye to a child.

The story centers around a group of retired opera singers living in Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians. Each year they gather to celebrate composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday and perform. Then a new resident, diva Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) arrives, and the group decides that she would make a great addition to their quartet.

The ensemble cast also includes Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, and Pauline Collins. But it is the remarkable Maggie Smith who carries the film with her charisma and skill. Based on Ronald Harwood’s stage play, Quartet is a wickedly comic film about redefining old age and demonstrating how the human spirit never dies.

Tom Courtenay stars

At 75, Dustin Hoffman made his directorial debut with this enjoyable genteel comedy about aging performers. He stocked the cast with a Who’s Who of British luminaries including Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and Pauline Collins.

The film centers on a group of elderly people who live in a home for retired opera singers and musicians. Each year they come together for a concert to celebrate composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday. When a former colleague arrives at Beecham House, the balance of their lives is thrown off.

Though the story does not shy away from the hardships of aging, it doesn’t shove them in your face like a certain French movie has done lately. The characters are well-rounded and they’re easy to empathize with. This is a lighthearted, heartwarming story that will make you smile and maybe even cry a little.

Billy Connolly stars

The film stars Maggie Smith Tom Courtenay Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly who is doing some of his best work in this comedy. The ensemble cast carries the story with ease each character feels real they aren’t just pre written stereotypes designed to progress the plot.

Quartet, based on Ronald Harwood’s stage play, follows a group of retired opera singers living at Beecham House, a retirement home for musically inclined people. They plan to re-unite for a concert on the occasion of Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday. But when a former member of their quartet, Jean, arrives, old rivalries and theatrical temperaments flare up.

Despite the gloomy backdrop, the film is uplifting and often irresistible. Its premise may be familiar from other films, but the performances are first rate and the music by Dario Marianelli adds to the experience. It’s a sweet comedy that shows the golden years can be a time of joy as well as sorrow.

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